Reigning 2012 Dally M player of the year Ben Barba has been stood down by the Canterbury Bulldogs indefinitely because of an undisclosed off field issue.
Detail are very sketchy and this has all just happened less than an hour ago. If there are any updates I will post them here. You will be able to find them at the bottom of the page.
So far not much has been said. The Bulldogs and Barba have made an official press release with little detail.
With the season less than two weeks away this is a blow to the football club, and the game in general. Still, none of that really matters if Barba is dealing with serious issues.
THe Bulldogs will address the media again at 1:30pm. I will update news from that press conference.
The Bulldogs made an statement on their official web site:
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have today confirmed that Ben Barba will be suspended indefinitely from all contractual duties until further notice.
The Club has also advised the National Rugby League today that Ben will not participate in the NRL’s season launch on Wednesday night where he was due to officially open the 2013 season.
The decision to suspend Ben indefinitely comes after the Club was informed of a number of behavioural issues.
“Whilst we all know the undoubted on-field attributes and abilities that Ben displays, we must always maintain our focus on the more important issues of personal development and accountability,” Chief Executive Officer Todd Greenberg said.
“It is our hope that the media and the many rugby league fans understand and respect the need for privacy in order for Ben and his family to make the relevant adjustments that are required for him to return to the playing field.”
Please find below a statement from Ben Barba in relation to his indefinite suspension from all duties with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs:
“Today is a very difficult day for me as I feel I’ve let my family, children, Club and supporters down.
“My issues relate to seeking help for personal issues that I face day to day.
“I’m incredibly sad to be stepping aside as I’ve been so blessed with what’s happened to me over the past few years, but I feel as though I would be wearing a mask if I didn’t confront the matters I’ve been dealing with until now.
“I feel it is best to deal with these problems front on and I believe that by doing so this will make me a better person and player in the future.
“This will be a step by step process for me and whilst I hope to return to football soon, I hope that through this next period you can respect my privacy so that sooner rather than later I can return to playing rugby league as best I can.
“When I do, I hope that everybody sees a better person.”
There will no doubt be a lot of speculation about what has prompted this move. I won’t post speculation here. If something concrete comes out, I’ll write about it. However I won’t be one of these sites that generates rumours to get cheap hit.
Lets hope that what ever the problem is, Barba can sort it out. I think it was a strong, smart decision by the Bulldogs to step in and make this decision if they felt it was a serious enough problem. It allows Barba to sort out what ever issue he is dealing with without the distraction of playing football.
12:30pm Update: Ray Hadley of 2GB radio in Sydney is reporting that the issues involved gambling, alcohol and other personal issues. I’ll post more updates as they come in.
1:30pm Update: Bulldogs CEO Todd Greenberg holding a press conference. Ask fans and press for understanding and support. He said Barba is talented and gifted but issues have lead to breaches of the clubs code of conduct. The Bulldogs made the decision to stand him down. Greenberg “Simply put, he needs help”. Greenberg says the Bulldogs will help and support Barba but it is also up to Ben to help himself. He refuses to say what the issues are but says Barba is dealing with a relationship breakup and is doing it tough.
Greenberg says Barba is dealing with issues he has had to deal with “Since he was a little boy”. Says his meteoric rise needs to be kept in mind. That he is dealing with issues in the public eye.
Greenberg: “Ben has lost his way, and we need to help him find his way back”.
Greenberg says he realized things had become serious over the weekend. That Barba is a private person and that there are a number of issues Barba needs to deal with.
Todd Greenberg says some of the breaches are small, others you take a dimmer view of. That over the last week there were things that clearly needed to be dealt with.
Greenberg: “Ben is at a point where football is the last thing on his mind”.
Greenberg says this is not a legal matter. This is simply a breach of the clubs code of conduct.
Todd Greenberg refuses to go into detail about what issues Ben Barba is confronting. He is committed to supporting Barba but says it is up to professionals to help Barba at the end of the day. Refutes claims Barba is facing financial issues.
Greenberg: “I don’t know when he will come back to footy. It could be six weeks, it could be six months”.
Todd Greenberg has said the club decided complete termination of Ben Barba’s contract would have been the easy way out for the club. The club committed to trying to help him. Says it all comes back to Ben Barba needing to help himself.
Ending the press conference, Greenberg said Ben Barba asked the club for some help.
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